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Disease Concept of Alcoholism

In the last three decades, the understanding and treatment of alcoholism has come a long way. In fact, most research now classifies alcoholism as a disease. Questions surrounding the hereditary makeup of alcoholic predisposition have also been around for decades, but in recent years there have been a number of studies done to clinically prove that there are certain genetic factors that make alcoholism more or less likely within human populations. Moreover, since different people react in vastly different ways to alcoholic consumption, the idea of alcohol as a "disease" has both proponents and contractors.

This paper will critically examine the evidence surrounding both the disease concept of alcohol and the more recent justification of alcoholism as a genetic predisposition. The main focus of the paper will use the seminal work by Elvin Jellinek, The Disease Concept of Alcoholism (1960) as a way to critique both past and contemporary evidenciary methodology. After a brief review of the literature, the paper will examine Jellinek's theory, and then use various material to access its validity in light of present research. The paper will conclude with an assessment of the evidence and an examination of some possible future research trends.

Initially, one must look at alcohol from a pragmatic juncture. Alcohol itself is formed when yeast grows in sugar solutions without air. When this occurs, the large percentage of the sugar in the solution ferments into carbon dioxide and alcohol. When the alcohol concentration rises above twelve percent, the yeast dies of alcohol poisoning. However, most humans do not drink pure alcohol. The concoction they drink has other chemicals, flavors, and the like. The added chemicals, in total, are called congeners. These cogeners include varying amounts of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and different purities of alcohol. Nevertheless, even in small quantities, alcohol is poisonous, and ...

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Disease Concept of Alcoholism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:14, April 21, 2019, from